Before we get into a discussion of details, just think about the dominance displayed by the Fresno State Bulldogs Saturday night. That game was never, really, in doubt. Fresno State just steamrolled Hawaii, for three quarters. The score doesn't come close to telling the truth. Domination - that is the correct description.
1. Ryan Colburn
The junior quarterback looked very solid. He is improving at a high rate of speed, with an accelerated learning curve. I got to watch some replayed segments of the game and it really struck me, when he tucked the ball and raced for the right sidelines (securing a first down), that Colburn seems to have arrived, as the settled starter for the Bulldogs. Consider three qualities he is displaying, now, in spades:
A. Confidence – The guy just looks "at ease", comfortable, even, as he takes the snaps. He looks like he belongs there, and he knows it. He has started to act like he knows what he is doing. That is a very good thing.
B. Courage – This player is not afraid. He is hard. He is big enough. He is not shying away from contact. He has huevos – big asset for a quarterback, huge. Thank God, his intellect is telling him to slide, some, however. Protect the equipment, we will need it later.
C. Decisiveness – By that I mean the opposite of hesitancy. His confidence and knowledge of the playbook are combining, as he rapidly matures. The game is starting to slow down for him. His judgment is improving.
2. Ryan Mathews
Well, we can say it now. Without hesitation, without fear of reprimand, Fresno State has the best running back in the country, period.
He’s the best combination of muscle-mass, speed, quickness, uncoachable moves, leg-drive and, perhaps more than anything, excellent vision. The guy not only sees everything, he also really knows what he is looking for. He has a gift. We get to watch. I like that arrangement.
Just for us Bulldog fanatics consider that Ryan has picked up his nation-leading yardage in four games, not five. Huh?
Do the math.
One quarter versus UC Davis, three quarters versus Hawaii and three full games. That makes 16 quarters of football. Shhh, don't tell.
3. Robbie Rouse
How good IS this true frosh phenom?
He is second in the country in yards per carry. He has a triple combo of abilities that are rarely seen, small, quick and shockingly elusive.
He actually HIDES behind the big road-graders, then darts out at unexpected angles, with slippery, eel-like jukes and jiggles.
Let me add a fourth quality. Rouse is a lot stronger than defensive players expect. Here's a fifth. Robbie is shorter than 5'7" (truth!) and he has an extremely low center of gravity. You gotta get LOW to tackle him. The guy is amazing. I always scoot forward in my seat when he gets the ball.
Opponents MUST have seen film of this player, by now, but the reality of his explosive quickness and instinctive moves - they are just not ready!
4. The Road-graders
Without singling out individual players, let me just say that the o-line was truly awe-inspiring. Hawaii really doesn't want to see that bunch, ever again. That bodes well for the rest of the games on the schedule.
I heard Ryan Mathews say, in one of his interviews after the game, that the o-line is just getting better and better. Oh, baby, that is all I can say. Oh, baby!
5. The Bulldog Defense
Let us all bow down and say to defensive end Chris Carter, "We're not worthy!"
What a player.
What a pass rusher.
What an offense disrupter.
What an incredible force to be reckoned with.
Maybe, behind Mathews, he is the MVP of the team. Let us also tip our hats to middle linebacker Ben Jacobs. The man has football sense. He seems to "be there" when the action heats up.
Please confirm kudos to A.J. Jefferson, AS A CORNERBACK, last Saturday. He stood up to their studly wide receiver, Greg Salas, the guy who is leading the nation, and Jefferson hung with him all night. I liked that, very much.
6. Devon Wylie
This player is a tremendous weapon in the arsenal. His speed is SO intimidating that it creates palpable fear in the body language of linebackers and defensive backs that meet him in the open field.
Did anyone else see that COMPLETE fakeout-juke he laid on that corner? Guy left his jock on the field.
Remember also Wylie's presence of mind, as he sails out at the corner, to gracefully extend his arm, so the ball crosses the end zone. Nice!
7. Offensive Co-Coordinator Jeff Grady
Oh, yeah, this is DEFINITELY working, boys and girls. The offensive mix, the unexpected plays, the strategic misdirections and tactical shifts – oh, yeah – this guy is a keeper. There will be good days ahead because of Jeff Grady.
8. Special Teams
I hope this is not my imagination, but the unit looked better, to me. Just one lapse for a longish run, otherwise it was solid. How about that blocked kick? Sweet, with big Ben on a rumble.
9. The attitude of the players…
…seems like a huge advantage. This team looks loose, happy and confident. By the way, I LOVE the way that wide receiver coach Keith Williams is yelling ALL THE TIME! He is a piece of work! The wideouts all seem to respect him, too.
10. The schedule
Fresno State has to be a frontrunner for second in the WAC. You think Nevada or Louisiana Tech is looking forward to getting a piece of Ryan Mathews.
The people I am worried about, Idaho! 5-1? Really? What do they have in the water up there in Idaho? Can FS bottle it?
The ‘Dogs do have a shot at 9-3, though. I know it is early, and FS is famous for letting down... but I don't think so.
If the ‘Dogs can sail through the rest of the WAC and beat Illinois...a great year may yet be in the cards.
Redroadster is highly regarded attorney in the Central Valley, a loyal Bulldog fan, and a regular poster/contributor on BarkBoard.com. Check in time to time for his take on games and other Bulldog athletic events in his View from the Roadster.
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